Patron of the Art
House is where the Art is?
A surprise name has come up as a candidate for Dewan Rakyat Speaker to replace current Yang Dipertua, Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof.
Election Commission chief Azhar “Art” Harun is said to be the Muhyiddin Yassin administration’s choice for Speaker and has reportedly already resigned his position with the EC. All that remains is for the Dewan Rakyat to debate the appointment of a new Speaker once the House sits again beginning July 13.
But another report has it that Art is not the only one whose name is in the pot. Several other non-MPs are also being considered. The reason why Moo is not considering any MPs for the post is, according to sources, because Perikatan wants all its MPs on the floor in the event a vote of no confidence against him is tabled. Among them are former Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia and an unnamed former judge.
All this is mere speculation at the moment. Perhaps the closest to any sort of confirmation of Art’s candidacy came from Selangor Barisan Nasional information chief Isham Jalil (who now?). But even that is up in the air as Isham says he was “informed” of the matter but didn’t say who had informed him and even adds “if this is true…”.
In case you’re a little lost, Muhyiddin had on June 26 tabled two proposals for motions to remove both Ariff and Deputy Speaker, DAP’s Nga Kor Ming. Both motions have been accepted.
Former minister Liew Vui Keong had hit out at the move, saying this was Moo’s way of ensuring the vote of no confidence against him did not come about. He also said it was a case of the executive interfering with the legislative.
But legal experts say this is not necessarily so. It is the right of any MP to table a motion to remove the Speaker or Deputy Speaker. Moo, they say, can be said to have been wearing his hat as Pagoh MP and not PM when he submitted the requests for the motions. However, if it was indeed a move to ensure the no confidence motion does not see the light of day, then this would be an extraneous reason and thus unconstitutional.
MooMoo’s move has indeed come in for a lot of criticism as it’s seen as a move to ensure the new Speaker is favourable to Perikatan. The latest to oppose the move is electoral reform watchdog Bersih 2.0.
Bersih has launched a petition, saying Ariff should remain the Speaker as he had shown a genuine appreciation for multi-partisanship since quitting party politics in 2018. Ariff had been a Bersatu member till he quit the party when he was appointed Speaker.
Bersih, Liew and others against the motion to replace the Speaker have all said the move is unprecedented as parliamentary convention is that a replacement is only found at the first sitting of Parliament after a general election, or upon the death or resignation of a Speaker.
It has to be said, however, that while this may be convention, there is no mention in the Federal Constitution that this has to be so. Article 57 of the Constitution provides for the appointment of the Speaker and Deputy Speakers, but doesn’t touch on any motion to replace them mid-term. The fact that the motions have been accepted would seem that they are not unconstitutional.
Why all this fuss over the replacement of the Speaker. Well, the Speaker is actually a mucho important person in the Dewan Rakyat. He is both the ceremonial and administrative head of Parliament, he is the spokesperson of the House as well as its presiding officer.
The fact that he is presiding officer, in fact, is probably the most important function of any Speaker. As such, he is supposed to be non-partisan. He mediates between opposing MPs in case of arguments, and has the power to suspend those who don’t follow Standing Orders. Basically, he is kinda like a referee would be in a boxing match. This article explains it pretty well.
What makes Art a surprise choice is the fact that he had previously been known to be outspoken and liberal, two things that are anathema to Perikatan component parties. But hey, politics and strange bedfellows, right? But if he does get appointed it would make him and his brother, attorney-general Idrus Harun, two of the most powerful siblings in the country.
Old gasbags still at it
The Pakatan Plus debate over who should be its PM candidate continued yesterday with both Amanah and DAP saying the proposal for Warisan president Shafie Apdal to be the man must be brought before the Pakatan presidential council.
But any hope of consensus will likely not come true. In an immediate reaction on social media, PKR president Anwar showed that he would not back down from his and his party’s insistence that he be the PM candidate for Pakatan, saying the opposition parties should “reject politics of lies and tricks”.
Political observers believe former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s announcement that DAP and Amanah were agreeable to Shafie as PM, and Anwar and Maddey Jr. Mukhriz as his deputies was a mere smokescreen. It’s a ruse to buy time and cover up the fact that neither Anwar nor Mads will back down on their claims to the title of Supreme Leader.
Whether or not this is true, it does seem like this impasse will not end anytime soon. All the signs point to a prolonged battle between Anwaristas and Pakatan leaders aligned with Mahathir.
Honestly, all of this politicking and background horse-trading is tiring and tiresome, and just shows how dishonest this entire process is. Since Pakatan has been on a high horse about transparency and accountability, perhaps the best way to dispense with the unending nonsense and solve this mess will be to hold a primary election. Let the wannabes debate, let them lay out their plans and their strategies and then leave it with the members of the respective parties to vote on whom they want as their PM and DPM candidate.
That, or we could have all these clowns fight to the death, Gladiator-style. 🤷
Anywayyyy … cracks also seem to be emerging on the other side of the great political divide, despite BN secretary general Annuar Musa’s attempts to show the love between the coalition, its Muafakat Nasional partner PAS and Bersatu. Annuar says Muafakat is open to Bersatu joining them, but really, doesn’t that just show that Umno and PAS believe Bersatu to be beneath them? Or are we imagining things?
Meanwhile, rumours emerged yesterday that the head honchos of the nine parties which make up Perikatan have met and drawn up battle lines for the next general election, further strengthening talk that snap polls may be called soon. The rumours, however, were dismissed by PAS and Umno as “psychological warfare” and an “ill-intentioned” move by certain quarters.
Anyhoo, here are some of the other political news items which came out yesterday:
- Bersatu president Moo and his party have endorsed and will fully support the BN candidate for the Chini by-election.
- The date for the Bersatu AGM has finally been set for Sept 27. It had originally been slated for June 15-28 but had to be postponed due to the MCO.
- Former Sabah Chief Minister Salleh Said Keruak has withdrawn his application to join PKR and submitted his forms to rejoin Umno. Wow, talk about shameless opportunism.
- More than 1,000 Warisan members from Libaran have announced that they have quit the party and pledged their support for Muhyiddin and former Sabah chief minister Musa Aman.
- We’re putting this under politics because let’s face it – this case is politics disguised as patriotism. The debate over the book cover that allegedly insulted the national coat of arms continues. Acclaimed political cartoonist Zunar has a very good explanation as to why this is NOT manipulation of the crest. Also, did you know the image used is actually that of an oil painting exhibited over six years ago?
Meanwhile, a network of intellectuals, writers and activists say books should be shielded from government interference. And they’re absolutely right. Also, you know who else seized (and burned) books? The goddamned Nazis, that’s who.
Sadly, we’re all just pissing into the wind here. While we’re gnashing our teeth and tearing out our hair, the cops have sprung to action (with rarely seen alacrity) and raided the company behind the publication, seizing over 300 copies of the book.
Bad news, good news kinda day
Malaysia’s unemployment rate for the first quarter of the year went up to 3.5% from 3.3% in the previous year, thanks to Covid-19 and the MCO.
This was to be expected though, considering the March unemployment rate alone was at 3.9%. In fact, if you may recall, things may get even worse as it was projected that the unemployment rate could go up to as high as 5.5% by the end of the year.
Now that many sectors are back in business, we hope that dire prediction doesn’t come true. But we’re still not out of the woods and despite the lifting of many restrictions under the current RMCO, apparently only one in three Malaysians are happy with life.
The good news, as far as Covid infections are concerned, is that Malaysia’s numbers are still generally low, with only two new cases reported yesterday for a total of 8,639. And for the 16th day in a row, there have been no deaths, leaving that total at 121. Meanwhile, 20 people were discharged for a recovery rate of 96.7% and leaving 164 active cases.
Meanwhile, here are some other Covid-related articles which came out yesterday:
- Covid-19 SOPs and guidelines are being finalised for the entry of students into universities in October. Online registration for classes will begin today.
- The government has decided to reactivate the Malaysia Social Protection Council in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The council will focus on four core areas – social assistance; social insurance; labour and data market intervention; and, governance.
- The government has decided to further ease restrictions at the borders with Thailand and Singapore. The borders will be reopened to cargo and commercial vehicles.
- If you’re wondering just what to watch now that cinemas are reopening today, here’s what will be playing on the silver screen.
King of drag
If you’re hoping to see swift justice (whichever way) in former PM Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia Development Bhd trial, think again.
Jibby’s lead counsel Shafee Abdullah believes the trial may take some time to conclude, considering there is still a long list of witnesses left to take the stand. In fact, he thinks it may run till the end of next year. And why not, considering that current witness, former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi has been on the stand since last year!
Anyways, back to the trial proper, Shahrol yesterday told the High Court it was everyone’s favourite fugitive financier and all-round (geddit?) pilfering pirate Low Taek Jho (namer glamer Jho Low) who was behind the ploy to hide the fact that 1MDB had lost billions of ringgit. He also said he couldn’t be sure if the Jibster had been hoodwinked.
That part about Najib probably wasn’t the best, considering Shahrol is a prosecution witness. We’re betting the prosecuting team would have preferred if he could have said that Jibby wasn’t hoodwinked at all.
Shahrol also testified that 1MDB failed to get back US$2.2 billion which had been pumped into a Saudi oil company, adding that promissory notes it had received from PetroSaudi International as redemption for its investment were probably worth nothing.
In other corruption related news, the investigation into the proposed Penang undersea tunnel has resumed. Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission officers raided three companies related to the project as new evidence has apparently emerged. This followed the arrest of former Penang Port Commission chief Jeffrey Chew.
The undersea tunnel project came under scrutiny after it emerged that RM305 million was paid to several companies merely to conduct a feasibility study. If you wanna read up on what the project entails, go here.
And now, for a short PSA
We’ve been noticing something really odd, folks. For some strange reason, every Tuesday, the number of people who open our emails are only half the rate of other days.
We’ve discussed, debated and generally cracked our heads over how this could happen with perfect regularity and honestly, we’re bamboozled by this. We’ve also checked our Mailchimp newsletter tool and it shows that all the emails are being delivered correctly.
If any of you notice weird stuff happening – like our emails going to your spam or promotions folder on Tuesdays – let us know, willya?
And also, the easiest way to generally avoid our notes disappearing into spam, etc is to add us to your contacts. Most of you are on Gmail and it’s as easy as hovering over our name in your inbox and clicking on the pop-up that appears. Here’s a step-by-step instruction list in case you need it.
“When Hitler burned a book I felt it as keenly as his killing a human, for in the long sum of history they are one and the same flesh.”
- Ray Bradbury -
IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS
- Hong Kong has adopted a controversial new security law which will list four offences that could entail life in prison for offenders. In an immediate response, the US has suspended Hong Kong import rights while the EU has issued a statement saying it deplores Beijing’s introduction of the law.
- The number of Covid-19 cases worldwide now stands at more than 10.3 million, with upwards of 506,000 deaths. But this could see a tremendous jump soon, with top American disease researcher Dr Anthony Fauci predicting that the number of new daily cases in the US could hit 100,000.
- Lee Hsien Yang, the estranged brother of Singaporean PM Hsien Loong, says he will not be contesting the country’s July 10 general election.
- A new study has revealed that the South Pole, considered the coldest point on earth, has warmed by three times the global rate in the last three decades.